BALDWIN — Nonprofit health care service Baldwin Family Health Care recently received $5,000 from the Delta Dental Foundation to assist in completing a new pediatric suite at its Baldwin location.

The new dental suite will be designed specifically with young patients in mind, so as to better ease their fear or discomfort when coming in for check-ups or dental work. This includes more comfortable chairs and monitors where kids can watch TV or play video games. The new dental suite will be ready for use in March.

"We are sensitive to the needs of those with a fear of visiting the dentist," said Family Health Care CEO Kathy Sather. "By creating a room with more comfortable chairs and TV monitors to distract and help pass time, we're hoping this will alleviate some of the anxiety. There is such an important connection between oral health and a person's overall health. Good dental care can't be overlooked."

Family Health Care received a $1 million grant which helped the group expand its medical and pharmaceutical facilities in Baldwin in 2015. Since then, the group has been looking to find funding to improve the rest of the Baldwin office, particularly its dental service.

"Due to the high demand for dental care in our community, it's been difficult, at best, to open our dental doors completely," remarked Terri Vanias, Family Health Care's facilities manager. "Family Health Care continually searches for opportunities to address access issues and dental access is a very big concern. Ensuring we have staff available for services is paramount and part of the process of recruiting professionals to our area is to have a building that is appealing. Matching our quality services to an up-to-date facility promotes candidates to apply and once they are recruited, will improve dental access in the area."

Previously, families who required dental facilities specifically designed for treating children would have to travel outside the county to find an appropriate dentist. Sather said the grant will make the process of helping young children in the community much easier both on the families and on Family Health Care.

"Tooth decay is the country’s most common chronic childhood disease today, and children in the United States miss 51 million hours of school each year because of dental-related issues," said Sather. "If we are able to reduce anxiety with these conveniences, we can treat locally. Going to the dentist does not have to be scary. Dental care is key to improving overall health. We can help to avoid expensive and painful health issues down the road and reduce the time the child and parent have to spend traveling out of the area."

The Delta Dental Foundation is the nonprofit wing of the Delta Dental corporation. It's goal is to support education and research for the advancement of dental science and to promote the oral health of the public through education and service activities.

"We are proud to recognize the work being done by Baldwin Family Health Care by selecting it as one of our grant recipients," said Teri Battaglieri, the Delta Dental Foundation director. "By increasing access to dental care, we can help improve the oral and overall health and well-being of children and adults by preventing serious health issues down the road."